Misused: Moral Event Horizon

Total posts: [114]
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Jeez. I got linked here through the Complete Monster clean up. What part of "single moment" do our readers apparently struggle with? So many of the entries are strings of evil deeds. Might I suggest that any examples with more than one deed listed be axed immediately?
What we are slowly getting at here is to go away from the idea that the Moral Event Horizon is a solitary, singular act that someone cannot be redeemed from (which is obviously not working as a definition) and is instead a moment that completely shifts the perception of a character. Thus it does become possible to cross the MEH multiple times so long as the character is fundamentally changed each time. In the case of my example a few posts back, one was regarding whether Ozai actually cared for Zuko and the other was the In-Universe reason Zuko defected.
[up]The posts I was talking about are the ones that are just a laundry list of bad things they did, without any comment on how it's perceived in story, or which (if any) of those moments altered the audience's perception of the character to that degree.
I was referring to a comment directly before yours, it wasn't a criticism of your analysis and in fact I agree with you. The primary problem with the trope is the complete ignoring of what an "event horizon" is and is just a listing of bad things an admittedly bad guy did.

If someone is an unrepentant monster then there is very little they can do to alter how the audience perceives them, but there might be a way to shift how the characters perceive them. For example, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker has the Joker do something that finally makes Batman snap and try to kill him. He doesn't, of course, and it may not have been the absolute worst thing the Joker ever did but this was so personal and it shook up the Bat-Family so much it was clear a line had been crossed.
Should we attach a crowner, or are we all in agreement on the next course of action?
Playing God seems to be the one and only MEH. It's the one step that damns the character and they can never take it back. It's the seizing of the baton of the power over death that seals them off from the common folk.
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107 ccoa21st Aug 2012 05:45:13 AM from the Sleeping Giant
Ravenous Sophovore
There's so much effort here it would be a shame to discard it. So rather than clocking it, I'm going to bump it in the hopes we can get something done here.
Waiting on a TRS slot? Finishing off one of these cleaning efforts will usually open one up.
108 SeptimusHeap21st Aug 2012 08:20:21 AM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
Ok, thanks to Google we can get a good idea on how it's used: It's clearly used as "Absolutely irreedemable evil act".

I haven't been following the entire discussion so I can't say how this will affect the whole thing.
Quick rundown of the discussion:
  • By definition it is a moment when a character crosses a line from generic villain to Complete Monster (or something approximating that kind of change).
  • It really shouldn't be YMMV, but editors are treating it as simply a bad thing a character did. It doesn't matter if a line was crossed or if it was any different from other bad things they have done, just "I didn't like what they did."
  • Under the "There Can Only Be One" and "completely irredeemable" definition makes it difficult to agree upon examples, as fiction doesn't always confine itself to our definitions (ie Darth Vader eventually being redeemed).
  • There is a better definition that eliminates the subjectivity, where the thematic tone of the work and the treatment of a character shifts with the act (ie Vader killing the Jedi children at the Temple). This means that:
    • A) It is possible to cross the event horizon multiple times, so long as the event changes the character and tone each time
    • B) It confines examples to more easily identified elements within a work, so it isn't about listing evil acts and how bad they were but explaining how the character or work changes as a result.
110 SeptimusHeap21st Aug 2012 11:22:01 AM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
This better definition seems to be a a bit at odds with the Google definition I found [up][up]. If it is different, I'll have to oppose the redefinition.
111 ccoa21st Aug 2012 11:26:57 AM from the Sleeping Giant
Ravenous Sophovore
Well, it is and it isn't, as far as I can tell. It's still an extremely evil act that makes the villain irredeemable. We're just now shifting the focus from "the audience now thinks he's irredeemable" to "the work treats the character as irredeemable, and here's how."
Waiting on a TRS slot? Finishing off one of these cleaning efforts will usually open one up.
There are a few additional caveats to the new definition, I just simplified to make the difference clearer. It is still an evil act and it has to be done in such a way that the character does not show regret or is hesitant about what they did. Like Ccoa said, it is shifting the definition away from audience reaction.

Oh yeah, the definition of irredeemable is also being shifted to "cannot attempt to cross back and everything be okay" instead of "impossible to be redeemed in any way, shape or form," again because fiction doesn't always follow the definitions we give to our tropes.

edited 21st Aug '12 11:45:53 AM by KJMackley

The new definition is different, but I don't see how that's a problem. It's a much more useful definition, and any good examples that fit the current definition will probably fit the new one as well. They'll just be better defined.
I think the problem is people not knowing what to do with a character that's already Jumped Off The Slippery Slope but hasn't quite crossed the Moral Event Horizon, point being that it looks like we need a trope for when a villian commits a single act that pushes them from one 'grade' of villiany into another, something like Crossing The Morality Line, which should be seen as a "scales of morality" analogy and can be crossed in the other direction as well, with the Face Turn tropes repressenting a specific point on the scale while anyone standing on that line is Neutral. This would be a trope which measures the progress of a character Slowly Slipping Into Evil.
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Total posts: 114
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